Jews owe Jimmy Carter a debt of gratitude. He has made it that much more difficult to hide one’s anti-Semitism behind a fixation with Israel. He has exposed this pastime for the ploy that it is, whether one uses the ploy wittingly or unwittingly. “Criticism” of Israel is no longer the effective shroud for what amounts to double standards for the lone Jewish state — especially when it comes from people whose other pastime is defending Cuba.
This is turning out to be one of the intriguing episodes, so far, in the war on terror. My guess is that it’s hugely significant, even a turning point, but the Bush administration is keeping mum about it.
Have you noticed that everyone now seems to need a title? It’s no longer enough to be just “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Miss.” Title inflation is as rampant as grade inflation, and produces equally silly consequences.
Saddam Hussein was executed this morning (6:00 a.m. Baghdad time), on Eid al-Adha. The timing of his execution was a mistake. I don’t expect a surge in violence in Iraq because pretty much all the remaining Ba’athists there have professed a conversion to radical Islam, and there have been no serious efforts by jihadist factions to condemn the execution. Saddam does have a following among ex-pat Ba’athists in Jordan and Syria, but they don’t have the infrastructure to carry out retaliatory attacks.
Some Rotarian! Gerald R. Ford, dead last week at 93, crooned the fanfare of the (Un)Common Man. The sole U.S. chief executive not elected to the presidency or vice-presidency tied autobiography (A Time to Heal ) and biography (Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”) Frank Merriwell, or Chip Hilton? Both lived in Ford.
As the year draws to a close, columnists, pundits and reporters trot out their “Best Of” and “Top 10” lists – no doubt cobbled together earlier in the month so as to facilitate an early departure from the office this afternoon.
Even “Sex & the City” in its final season dealt with the medical finding that not going through a pregnancy cycle increases a woman’s risk of getting cancer. As the Kim Catrall character, Samantha, put it, “When did having a baby become your ticket out of cancer?”
In an AP poll asking people to name heroes and villains of the year, Bush won for both hero and villain. But the percentages naming him villain (25%) were higher than the percentages naming him hero (13%), and he outdistanced Osama bin Laden for the villain title. Then again, this comes from a pool of people whose pick for “best entertainment role model” was Oprah.
Like everyone else on the planet, I was musing recently on Barack Obama’s name, in particular his middle name Hussein, which I guess he has the taste to not include in the full name he uses — at least for now. I, for one — like many Americans, who are decent to a fault — would have disavowed that name decades ago, so that anyone who discovers that I once had the name “Hussein” would also learn that I officially changed it by the age of 18.
Recently two prominent left-wing bloggers, Matthew Yglesias and Spencer Ackerman, have questioned whether the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) — the radical group that Ethiopia is currently battling in Somalia — is really linked to terrorism. Yglesias writes, “What are the names of these people the Islamists are sheltering? How many of them are there? Who are they? What have they done? What diplomatic efforts has the United States made to get the Islamists to turn them over? Pardon me for being cynical, but in this day and age my suspicion is that names aren’t involved in these articles but [sic] there’s no one in particular the Bush administration is worrying about and this is mostly hype and paranoia.” And Ackerman, after a grand total of two telephone calls to public affairs officers at State and the DNI, concludes, “The administration believes three terrorists are in Somalia, with unclear or unstated connections to the ICU. Then there’s the issue of Aweys, whom the U.S. isn’t officially making an issue, for unclear reasons. Decide for yourself if this is a good reason to instigate a regional war.”
As predictably as sunrise the news arrived on Christmas Day that American casualties in Iraq now “equal” the number of deaths in the fall of the Twin Towers on Nine Eleven. Oh, what fanfare. Global coverage by a gleeful Press tried to trumpet a somewhat mysterious connection between the murders in New York on a morning in September 2001, and the battle dead in the Middle East.
Upon learning that Monica Lewinsky, 33, graduated from the prestigious London School of Economics with master of science degree in social psychology, Washington Post staff writer Libby Copeland was jolted down to the DNA in her bone marrow: “She did not!!”
On Wednesday, I had an article at Pajamas Media that discusses the reasons for Ethiopia’s surprisingly successful military campaign against the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia. (The previous conventional wisdom that I received from trusted military intelligence sources was that the ICU was likely to defeat the Ethiopian military and overrun the secular transitional federal government, which was then holed up in the south-central Somali city of Baidoa.) An excerpt:
A week ago, Retail & Food Services data came out for the month of November. It showed an unexpectedly large increase over October, which was fueled by a 4.6% jump in ‘Electronic & Appliance Stores,’ twice as high as the second-highest jump, in ‘Gasoline Stations.’
In turning down an invitation to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the AP reported, Carter said “that the school’s debate request is proof that many in the United States are unwilling to hear an alternative view on the nation’s most taboo foreign policy issue, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.”
Gerald Ford was president when I was born, so I can’t exactly draft a post waxing about my memories of his presidency. But I do have a key observation. For all everyone has ever goofed on Ford, for all the klutz and golf-ball jokes, for every time he was panned as a boring or overly nice guy, check this out: He has upstaged James Brown.
Next week, Keith Ellison takes the oath of office as incoming Congressman representing the 5 th Congressional District of Minnesota. The gentleman from Minnesota will have an historic opportunity. As the first Muslim American elected to national office in the United States, Congressman-elect Ellison can be a potent force of moderation for Muslims in America and the world. The new Congressman can use his forum in the House of Representatives to speak out against extremism, against jihad, against terror and death cults and to emerge as the Islamic voice of reason the world has been waiting for.
Hillary Clinton has followed the lead of other Christian-hating Democrats who are reaching out to Christians by hiring an evangelical strategist to cut into the conservative evangelical vote. Which means she actually found an evangelical to advise the party that sells out America and America’s one true ally in the Middle East — and it wasn’t Jimmy Carter!
Jeff, it’s pretty funny, albeit predictable, that most Muslim Virginia voters went for James Webb. (Though I was impressed that only 47,000 out of 50,000 did.) Before they voted, someone should have made them watch the Samuel L. Jackson movie that Webb wrote: “The Rules of Engagement” (2000), in which he shows how insidious and beastly their peeps are:
Here’s why Amnesty International is so hard to take seriously. Saddam Hussein is a mass murderer. It’s a matter of history–in fact, it’s the foundation to understanding anything about Iraq since pretty much its founding. The new Iraqi government put Saddam on trial, carried the thing out for a year, and focused only on one of the bloodier charges against him. He was found guilty.
They say that anger is a difficult emotion to sustain, and I have found this to be true. In recent years I’ve no longer been feeling the fury and indignation that Bill Clinton deserves me to feel when I see his face.
Thanks, Jeff. Meanwhile, if we’re talking about “the first real sign that President Bush cared deeply about Jews and Israel”: even before the Durban conference on racism, there was Bush’s refusal to meet with Arafat, much less at the White House. The first visitor to the White House from the Middle East was Ariel Sharon.